LoriB.me

Rambling On…

Video: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar by The Guild — 09/22/2010

Video: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar by The Guild

Lori B. says, “Truly awesome! I laughed, I cried, I didn’t really cry.”

Credits:
Directed by: Jed Whedon
Music by: Jed Whedon
Lyrics by: Felicia Day
Main Vocal: Felicia Day
Rap: Jeff Lewis and Sandeep Parikh
Backup Vocals: Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon
Director of Photography: Omer Ganai
Choreography: Chantal Robeson
Edited by: Jeff Yorkes
Produced by: Christian Agypt, Felicia Day
Costumes: Sarah Trost
Weapons: Greg Aranowitz
Production Design: Tyler Robinson

Starring:
Vincent Caso
Felicia Day
Jeff Lewis
Amy Okuda
Sandeep Parikh
Robin Thorsen

Dancers:
Bijoya Das
Jul Kohler
Maurissa Tancharoen

English Subtitles: Daniela Figueiredo
Portuguese – Jonathan Iury and Dani Figueiredo
Spanish – Pablo Lopez Vila and Carles Soler Sala

BeeDragon.com 2010 — 09/03/2010

BeeDragon.com 2010

BeeDragon Web Services2010 has been the most successful year yet for my business, BeeDragon Web Services. I have been getting a lot of work from other web developers and designers. It is very exciting getting to work with talented people who do similar work. When each person combines their unique skills, we make each other’s work shine.

With the growing popularity of open source software, I have been able to focus on building sites with WordPress and Drupal, and to greatly increase my skills in taking these platforms to the next level for my clients.

Once again, my business site has become outdated. The web development business is incredibly fast moving. One of my favorite things about this job is that I am continually learning new technologies. 2010 has been an especially exciting year for web development with the growing browser support for HTML5 and CSS3, as well as new releases (or near releases) of both WordPress and Drupal.

I am still working on the site, but for the most part it is done. I would like to thank Sallie Goetsch (aka The Author-izer) for helping me with much of the copy that fills the site, and as always, Karen, for being supportive, helping with the words, editing, and helpful suggestions.

An Updated History of BeeDragon.com* (Original History):

  • 1995 – version 1.0 – No layout at all, not even a table. All text is centered. Animated GIF of a dragon flying across the screen repeatedly.
  • 1997 – v2 – Table based version of the same site. Graphic page title images. Presentational CSS added. <FONT> tags removed.
  • 1999 – v3 – Template Monster template with Flash header. Need I say more?
  • 2004 – v4 – Mambo/Joomla CMS. Nice for 2004, but too boxy and modular for 2007. Very web 1.0. Hardly anyone has ever heard of a blog, so long detailed explanations were necessary but confusing.
  • 2007 – v5.0 – Customized WordPress site. Reflects what I do. Updated prices. Simple. Pretty. Tables for data only.
  • 2010 – v6.0 – WordPress 3.0. Once again, updated to reflect the work that I do. New design, focus on WordPress development, All-in-one website and hosting packages added, Portfolio updated.

* Fine Print: Technically, this is not really a history of BeeDragon.com. BeeDragon.com was registered in 2002. Before that, my “web design business” sites lived on aol, compuserve, and home.attbi.com.

First Annual Distraction Awards — 03/23/2010

First Annual Distraction Awards

I have been very distracted lately! Too many things going on and I can not focus on any of them. Luckily, I have had no problem focusing on distractions. I would like to give recognition to the distractions that have proven to be most entertaining in the ‘First (and possibly last) Annual Distraction Awards’.

Best Web Standards Video to a Bob Dylan Tune


More info and lyrics @ Molly.
Continue reading

Computer History Museum — 01/30/2010

Computer History Museum

I have been at the She’s Geeky conference this weekend at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Got to go on a tour of the museum today. There are lots of old computers, some restorations, handheld video games, abaci, calculators, adding machines, and software.

The conference has been very fun. It is well named. Definitely have never been around that many girl geeks before! Tomorrow is the last day. There is a session about asperger’s which I would never have expected, but it was subtitled “the geek syndrome”, so guessing that is the connection. I am very curious. There is also one about Drupal called ‘Show me your back end’. Hopefully they are not both at the same time. Drupal will win. Some pix from the museum:

Autism Women’s Network — 01/05/2010

Autism Women’s Network

After 3 months of complete immersion, the Autism Women’s Network site is live and open to the public. I am still adding features and fixing the occasional bug here and there, but for the most part, it is done.

Autism Women's Network Website
Autism Women's Network Website

Building this site has been an amazing experience for me. I am happy to get to contribute something to the AWN, which is an awesome organization that “provides effective supports to autistic females of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources”. This site is open to all supporters including men and non-autistic people.

The response has been amazing! After just 3 days, we have more than 150 registered users and over 1000 forum posts! I would like to extend a big thank you to all the beta testers and other people who have been helping to get this site up.

A large part of my obsession while working on this site has been in learning Drupal, an open source PHP/MySQL content management system and framework. I have been running a Drupal test site since 2003. About 2 times a year, I dust it off, update it, and try to love it. Usually, I end up hating it, but keep going back because of the large community that surrounds it. There could not be so much Drupal love without a reason.

I am now a Druciple. I will still use WordPress for as many sites as I can, but for larger projects, it is really nice to have the amazing power and endless flexibility of Drupal as part of my web dev arsenal. I look forward to continued work on this site and continued development with Drupal.

All Drupal All The Time – Too Bad I Can’t Breathe — 11/06/2009

All Drupal All The Time – Too Bad I Can’t Breathe

Writing on the iPhone. Hard to breathe. Shaky. Strangely okay besides that. Sometimes writing helps. Been very busy lately. All Drupal all the time. Besides from the insane learning curve and non-intuitive UI, I am in awe of its power and flexibility. After more than 15 hours of video tutorials and reading tons of docs, I am finally understanding how it works and how the code is organized. I am learning while building a site for an awesome organization. Will link to it when it is done. If all goes according to plan, it will launch around Jan. 1st, 2010. Not mentioning the org. because there is a board and I don’t know if things like that have to be decided about, but if someone who knows the answer and wants to post it in the comments, go for it 🙂 I haven’t used Drupal to build a site since version 4.1 other than keeping my test site updated. Been wanting to learn it for real for a few years so very happy to finally get around to it. Still, it makes me appreciate the simplicity and clean code of WordPress even more than I already do. Been having some small jobs besides from that.

Me & K went to Monterey for K’s 40th birthday and had an awesome time. Happy birthday K! We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the seahorse exhibit. It was amazing. We also saw lots of sharks and rays and other random sea creatures. We stayed overnight at a nice bed and breakfast and got home the next day in time to give Halloween candy to kids. Not so many kids this year.

Still hard to breathe but not so dizzy anymore. Sometimes it is kind of annoying to be me but most of the time I like it. Enough writing for now. I think it helped some.

Tech Support Cheat Sheet — 09/03/2009

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Tech Support Secrets (click to enlarge)

[singlepic id=28 w=450 h=505 float=none]
From xkcd.

Thanks to Joni Mueller for the link 🙂

21 Favorite Mac Apps of the Moment — 07/18/2009

21 Favorite Mac Apps of the Moment

Update (8/3/09): Added SuperDuper! to list and changed title.

World of Goo
World of Goo

Just got my aluminum imac replaced by Apple. The old one was kind of possessed by gremlins or some such thing. After several failed repair attempts, part replacements, and countless hours of phone support, Apple agreed to give me a shiny new computer. Loving it 🙂 The specs are not all that much different from the first one, but the parts are better, so it is faster and the graphics are extra kick ass.

While restoring my data, I was having an appreciation of all the great mac software out there. Much of it is free, donationware, or relatively low cost. Here are some of my current favorites (in no particular order):

  1. Caffeine (Free) – A one trick wonder. Puts a coffee cup icon in the menu bar that, when clicked, prevents your computer from automatically going to sleep, dimming, or starting screen savers. It is really great for reading long articles and watching videos or screencasts. You can set a default duration for it to stay on so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to disable it.
  2. SuperDuper! ($27.95) – I can’t believe I left this one out! SuperDuper! is a backup program that will make a fully bootable backup, or “clone” of your mac’s hard drive. I clone mine nightly. During my aforementioned computer woes, I recovered my drive several times using SuperDuper! and booted my laptop from the clone while my imac was in the shop so that I could keep working.
  3. DropBox (Free to $199/yr.)- Online storage and file sync for mac, windows, and linux. First 2 GB of space is free and you can get up to 3 GB more by referring other people. If you click the link in this article, we will both get 250G extra space 🙂 Paid accounts are available with 50 or 100 GB storage. One feature I love is that you can create public downloads by right-clicking on a file in your Public folder and selecting ‘Copy public link’. This allows anyone who has the link to download the file.
  4. Komodo Edit (Free) & Komodo IDE ($99-$245) – Both of these code editors are great. Komodo edit has an excellent set of features for a free app. Multiple languages, code formatting, auto-indent and more. Komodo IDE adds debugging, a code browser, source-control systems integration, and other handy tools like a regular expressions toolkit.
  5. MAMP (Free) – MAMP rocks! It is a really quick way to set up a local development environment. Installs and configures Apache, PHP, MySQL, and phpMyAdmin in a self-contained directory that will not interfere with any existing Apache installations.
  6. Transmit ($29.95) – There are some great free FTP clients out there, but I really love the Transmit interface, mac integration, and the fact that it can handle any FTP task I throw at it (SFTP, TLS/SSL, WebDav, iDisk, Amazon S3, server to server transfers and lots more. If you have mobileMe, you can sync your accounts between macs.
  7. Bookdog ($19.95) – Syncs bookmarks between browsers. Amazing. Removes duplicates, sorts, and verifies links. Syncs with del.icio.us and Google Bookmarks and works with tons of browsers.
  8. ImageWell (~$18) – I have had this tiny app for years and use it all the time. Great for quickly resizing images and adding watermarks. Photoshop and other apps will do the same thing, but none will do it as fast or as easy.
  9. ColorTagGen (Free) – Another app I use all the time. Lets you use the mac color picker to generate hexidecimal and RGB values of colors. A closely related app which I also use is Hex Color Picker (Donationware) which adds a tab to the system-wide color panel that allows you to see and edit the hex color code for any color.
  10. Bento – ($49) – Bento (made by FileMaker) is drag and drop easy to use database software. I can never decide if I like it or hate it, but find myself using it more and more. It is great for simple databases like a client list or home inventory, but I often wish it had more relational database features like FileMaker. Bento is also slow to open and I use it for information that I need to access quickly. On the other hand, it does more than a spreadsheet and makes data pretty.
  11. Together ($39) – Junk drawer software. A place to put all that random information that you want to be able to reference in the future. I tried a bunch of apps when it was time to replace my beloved Yojimbo, which was starting to feel out of date and cumbersome. Together came out on top for having the features I needed without being too complicated or too basic.
  12. Text Edit – Basic mac text editing program. I default to plain text format and use this all the time to clean text that was sent to me by clients in Word or copied from a web page. I also use it for a notepad and scratch pad.
  13. LaunchBar (~$34) – Quickly launch applications, access clipboard history, find documents, and much more with your keyboard. Very similar to QuickSilver, which I used to love, but started having problems with, possibly because it is in perpetual beta. Still, it is a classic and it is free.
  14. MenuCalendarClock (Free, $19.95 for advanced features) – I love this tiny app. Lets you customize the menu bar display of time and date (best to disable default time display in System Preferences). Clicking on the menu bar date/time drops down a calendar that highlights days with scheduled events. Hover over the dates and a tooltip appears showing the events for that day. Lots of other cool features. Not really sure which ones are in free vs. paid version, but there is a comparison at the site.
  15. DragThing (Shareware, $29) – Dock replacement. Allows you to create multiple docks, each with multiple tabs, and place them anywhere you want. Along with LaunchBar, this is one of the first things I install on any mac. I wrote a post about DragThing last year.
  16. Default Folder X ($34.95) – Adds many useful features to Open and Save dialog boxes. Choose recent and favorite folders quickly. Assign default folders for applications. Menu bar icon for fast access to favorite and recent folders, open finder windows, and all other folders through flyout menus.
  17. PathFinder ($39.95) – Finder replacement (works alongside of Finder). Adds about a million features that you wish were in the Finder. More sorting and display options, dual pane browser for side by side folders in one window, tabs, drop stack to hold files in a temporary stack, and more.
  18. 1Password ($39.95) – Store logins, passwords, credit card info, and secure notes. Integrates with most browsers allowing you to log into websites and enter credit card information with just a few keystrokes. You only need to remember one master password to allow the browsers access to the stored information. Pretty amazing if you have tons of logins to remember and/or shop online.
  19. TextExpander ($29.95), Typinator ($19.99) , TypeIt4Me ($27)   – Thanks to the many mac software bundles, I have somehow managed to have a license to all 3 of these apps. Currently I am using TextExpander, but I don’t think I have a preference. They all have their pros and cons. Mostly pros. All 3 apps basically do the same thing – inserting text and/or images when you type a short abbreviation. For example, when I type bsig, it automatically changes to my 4 line business email signature. Also great for canned responses, code snippets, email addresses, phone numbers, common typos, URLs, and anything else that you type regularly.
  20. Paparazzi (Donationware) – Another one trick wonder. Takes full page screenshots of web pages. Very handy for designers and developers that need to view an entire web page at one time.
  21. World of Goo ($20) – Not sure what to say about World of Goo except that you should try the demo (mac, windows, linux). Completely original game involving balls of goo with different physical properties. The “dialog” and sounds are funny, the graphics and animation are excellent, and it’s very fun! Warning: May also cause extreme frustration in certain circumstances.

That is all I can think of for now. Curious what other people’s favorite apps are. I’ll try just about anything that has a demo version.

Professional Frontend Engineering Video — 06/26/2009

Professional Frontend Engineering Video

This video, Nate Koechley: “Professional Frontend Engineering” from Yahoo! Video, is a great presentation about the current state of frontend web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript). I was completely captivated for the full hour and a half that the presentation lasted.

Nate started out with a history of website development starting with a 1994 version of the Yahoo! website and continuing until the present. He also spoke about the evolution of technologies and trends over the years. It was interesting to hear about how table based design became popular and why it was necessary at the time.

Next up was an overview of current beliefs and principles of front end engineering, which covered progressive enhancement, unobtrusive javascript, and the importance of making the website available to the largest possible audience.

The next section, Knowledge Areas and Best Practices, covered rendering modes, doctypes, and using each technology appropriately, i.e. html for semantic markup, css for presentation, and unobtrusive javascript for behavior. One thing I found interesting was that he considered it more important to keep the css code for each area in the same place by using hacks for IE6 and IE7, even though it would prevent the css from validating. I usually use conditional comments and separate stylesheets for different versions or combinations of versions of IE and can definitely see the benefit of Nate’s approach, as well as how it could be a big timesaver.

The presentation wrapped up with the ‘Why It All Matters’ segment which brought everything together and included a call to action for developers to stay vigilant, keep up with modern technologies and the bugs that arise from them, and to continue making the internet a better experience for everyone.

If Clients Treated Others Like They Do Freelancers — 05/28/2009